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Career Anxiety and the Beauty of Alternate Paths

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

So, you’re worried about work after college, huh. You’ve spiraled into oblivion just thinking about how you’ll find a good job on your career path after college. You’ve gone down the rabbit hole of Indeed and LinkedIn job searches. 

What if you don’t find a job in your career field when you graduate?

Seriously, what if?

It’s probably already occurred to you that despite this being the worst outcome imaginable, you’ll just keep living your life. Sure, you may not enter into the career you’ve been planning for, and you may settle for a job that doesn’t even require a college degree. Believe me, as a journalism student in Utah, I understand that your future may seem bleak right now.

The best thing that I’ve learned in college is that it’s okay to take your time, whether you want to do so or you’re kind of being forced to do so. You might not get the first job you apply for, but there’s no shame in that. And there’s no reason not to take some time to hone your skills, learn more, and do it all while working a job that you didn’t necessarily study for. 

When I started college, I remember being horrified at the possibility of making less than $60k at a job. Now, I’ve accepted that’s likely what’s in store for me for the next few years, maybe even the next decade. As an aspiring writer, I know I’m not exactly looking at the most lucrative career. I’ve learned to find value, though, in places where I didn’t ever see myself working.

I worked for nearly two years at a fast fashion company, most of that time being spent in offices working in e-commerce. I am staunchly against fast fashion, so I never saw myself in this position outside of a retail job. In my time there, I learned more about leadership, business, fashion and myself than I ever anticipated, especially considering I left the business school after one year.

I have spent my time in college working odd copywriting jobs, just hoping they’d get me paychecks and experience in writing. I learned that I hate copywriting and that I can learn new types of writing and adapt to changing demands. I still say, though, that I will never take another copywriting job if I can help it.

Now, I’m a senior in college. I have one semester left and I can’t seem to get a job in journalism. I can’t get my foot in the door yet. Initially I was frustrated and upset over the thought of taking a job outside of that field. I worked so hard during college, both in school and out, to get work experience and class work that would make me look like a good employee in the eyes of prospective employers. 

What was it all for though, if I can’t get a job?

I realized this past year that I wanted to try different jobs. I never saw myself doing the same thing forever. It is time for me to dip my toe in whatever fields I want and have access to. 

Do you have a job you’ve always been interested in, or interests that veer away from what you studied? 

For me, some of those jobs included being a cafe barista and anything that involved working with animals. Now, I work as a barista in a tea cafe that I love and I pet-sit people’s dogs. Sure, I don’t need a college degree for these jobs, but I’m having fun and it’s allowed me to still have time for school. 

Latte Art
Kelsey Emery / Spoon

I’m not saying that I’m settling for jobs solely because a younger version of myself thought I wanted to do them. I just think it’s important for people to do the things that make them happy, even if it’s simply trying something new that seems fun. 

Taking these jobs instead of hustling for journalism jobs also doesn’t mean that I’m not actively look for writing and reporting jobs. They are merely far and few between where I live; it’s not an easy task. As a college student, I also have very little experience in those fields, so it doesn’t hurt to give myself time to build up a more impressive portfolio.

I still find myself worrying about my career, though my focus has shifted to the problem of getting experience in an area where relevant jobs are scarce. I’m sure this worry is extremely common among readers as well, so no one is alone in feeling this way. I don’t write this article to be condescending. I don’t mean to sound like your older family members who may tell you you’re a shoe-in for a job because you’re just so smart.

I want to shed light on alternate paths. There are ways to proceed after graduation that don’t entail a straight shot into your career and no deviation from that path. It’s okay to be unsure and try different things. If anything, this is probably the best time to experiment with jobs and figure out more about what you actually like to do for work. 

You may be surprised to see just how many jobs out there fall under your interests that you didn’t know were even positions before your search. The best thing you can do when you feel discouraged in your job hunt or your midnight career spiral while you’re still in school is to try random jobs without worrying how they will contribute to your career experience.

Of course, this may not be a viable path for everyone and every career path. This really isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, but it’s important to recognize that it can be a possibility.

Junior studying Journalism and International Studies
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